Chamber Hosts Roundtable with White House and DOS Officials on International STEM Talent

GR Chamber Hosts Roundtable with White House and DOS Officials on International STEM Talent

Last week, the Grand Rapids Chamber provided members with an opportunity to meet virtually with White House and Department of State officials to discuss international talent in our region.

As the competition for talent is fiercer than ever, attracting international talent has become a major turning point for many organizations, especially those within STEM fields.

This year, the White House announced several new initiatives to advance pathways for STEM talent in the United States through international exchange. This included the launch of the U.S. State Department’s Early Career STEM Research Initiative, a program that will create more opportunities for companies across industries to host J1 exchange visitors conducting research in STEM fields for up to five years.

Amy Nice, Assistant Director for International S&T Workforce, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Mark Howard, Director, Office of Private Sector Exchange Program Administration, U.S. Department of State, walked through the initiative and shared how to host international talent here in the U.S.

This initiative makes it possible for businesses to hire international talent when the company is engaged in STEM research, whether it be lab, applied, or experimental research efforts. Such foreign-born STEM experts could be hosted by companies through the existing J-1 visa categories as research scholars, specialists, professors, interns, and trainees, including those in the U.S. as post-doctoral fellows.

While solving the talent crisis is a major priority, the team emphasized that international talent doesn’t just fill in the gaps from a staffing perspective, but it offers a multitude of benefits for individuals and communities alike. Encouraging interactions and experiences across different cultures is what helps our businesses innovate, and ultimately, succeed.

Following the presentation, members had the opportunity to ask questions to the White House and DOS officials. Questions about barriers to hiring, qualifications, and details about visa types and processes were addressed.

If you are interested in hosting international STEM talent, you can learn more about the initiative HERE.

If you’re interested in learning more about this program, contact Nate Henschel, Director of Government Affairs, at


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